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Washington Examiner: Liberal Democrats force House to cut Israel defense funding from critical spending package

September 22, 2021
News Stories

Washington Examiner - Susan Ferrechio

Opposition from liberal House Democrats forced party leaders to cancel $1 billion in funding for Israel's Iron Dome defense system.

House Democrats plan to bring up a stopgap government funding bill on Tuesday that will include additional emergency funding for states and Afghan refugees. The measure was also slated to include $1 billion to replenish Israel's Iron Dome, which is the country's main air defense system against incoming rocket and missile attacks.

But a group of liberal House Democrats, including a pair with a history of making antisemitic remarks, leveraged the party's narrow House majority to force it out. The group said they would vote against the entire package if it includes the money for Israel, threatening passage because Republicans are poised to oppose the funding bill.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were among Democrats protesting the funding. The group has long opposed providing funding for munitions for Israel out of concern for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Democrats plan to move the funding out of the spending bill and into a Defense funding bill that will likely have bipartisan support and can afford to lose Democratic votes.

Republicans slammed the move, arguing Iron Dome is a defense system that is used to stop incoming rocket attacks from the Hamas government. The United States recognizes Hamas as a terrorist organization. The removal provided the GOP with a favorite talking point: Democrats do not support Israel, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East.

"The Iron Dome is a critically important asset to protect the innocent lives of civilians," Rep. Tom Cole, the top Republican on the House Rules Committee, said Tuesday. "For us to treat an ally in this manner is regrettable."

House Democrats had little choice but to strip out the bill.

The stopgap spending bill would not only keep the government running past a Sept. 30 deadline, it would raise the debt limit until December 2022 in order to avert the federal government defaulting on its loans.

Republicans plan to oppose the package out of opposition to the Democrats' plan to pass a $3.5 trillion social welfare spending bill the GOP said will contribute to the nation's deficit and debt.

Republicans attacked the move, referencing antisemitic tweets and statements made in the past by Tlaib, Omar, and other liberal Democrats.

"Democrats just pulled funding from the Iron Dome — the missile defense system that has saved countless lives in Israel from Hamas' rocket attacks," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, tweeted. "While Dems capitulate to the antisemitic influence of their radical members, Republicans will always stand with Israel."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, introduced an amendment to the Defense spending measure the House plans to vote on this week that would stop the U.S. from selling $735 million in arms and other military equipment to Israel and Saudi Arabia, another critical U.S. ally.

Ocasio-Cortez cited Israel's "bombing of Palestinian civilians," and media outlets and Saudi Arabia's government-sanctioned murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Online: Washington Examiner